People often equate the word “calisthenics” with bodyweight. In reality, it can be a form of calisthenics, but the true Greek definition is beautiful strength. This means if you are doing bodyweight training, it needs to look good and create strength for it to even be classified as calisthenic.
Otherwise you’ll just be like a fish out of water that’s flopping around on a beach. Don’t be a fish! Get the most out of your bodyweight training routine by following my key principles.
Focus on precision instead of reps
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I happen to live by the model 99% quality or better. I don’t think I need to sound that out for you. Do you really think you can maintain 99% quality if you try to bang out 100 push-ups? I promise you can’t.
In fact, you’ll probably start breaking that rule after 10 reps! Forego the high reps with momentum and replace it with slow and controlled movements that are focused on stellar form. This will especially ring true on the pull-up bar.
Perform many sets
Here’s where the magic begins. Just because you reduce your reps and focus on quality form doesn’t mean you have to reduce your overall volume. All you need to do to fill in the gaps is add more sets.
For example, 10 sets of 5 reps of really good dips is better than 5 sets of 10 with momentum and poor form. You will also get a lot more muscle recruitment due to more time under tension.
Don’t be afraid to rest
I’m not going to tell you exactly how long to rest between sets, because that will vary with each individual. However, don’t rush things. Remember the quality principal.
If you try to do push-ups without the proper recovery time between, you may end up falling flat on your face when your arms give out. Walking around with two fat lips and a broken nose isn’t very sexy.
Unless you are uber rushed to get your workout in, be patient. Exercise is not a race. Think of it as fine wine. You don’t chug wine do you? Well you shouldn’t try to chug your workout down either.
Perform supersets for more anaerobic overload
Here’s where you can bend the rest period rule slightly. Instead of doing “X” amount of sets of one given exercise, try throwing supersets in for more of an anaerobic shock to your system. Just make sure to work different muscles when you do it.
For example, after doing a set of push-ups, stand up and do a set of squats or lunges. Then rest and repeat. Do you see how it works? You go from upper body to lower body so there is no conflict.
You are working two completely different muscle groups, but your aerobic and most likely anaerobic system will be getting taxed. This is actually a good thing because it will boost your growth hormone levels and promote more lean muscle mass.
Put sexy complexes together for an even greater caloric expenditure
Complexes consist of performing multiple exercises in a combination. I do these all the time with kettle bells, but you can do them bodyweight exercises too. These are sort of like supersets to the 10th power. You get a high anaerobic output plus a high amount of muscle recruitment.
Try this complex on for size. Perform five perfect pull-ups, five perfect push-ups then five alternating reverse lunges with each leg. Rest and repeat. You now just worked every major muscle group in your body.
Take days off
Even though it’s only bodyweight, you can still over train. As a simple rule of thumb, do not work the same muscle groups to failure on consecutive days. Take at least one day off between workouts.
If you still have major soreness after one day, then take another one off. You can always go for a jog, hike or brisk walk to keep the momentum going and calories burning.
Ok, that should give you a healthy supply of information to be successful with your workouts. If you need more information or I can assist you any way further, don’t be afraid to look me up.